Friday, January 8, 2016

The X-Files - S9:E11 "Audrey Pauley"

[ S9:E10 "Providence" <<< Season 9 >>> S9:E12 "Underneath" ]

If 4-D - also written by Steven Maeda (imagine that) - is anything to go by, the "domesticated" scene between Doggett and Reyes that opens this episode (warning: UST) is a sign that something tragic is about to befall. And, sure enough, Reyes gets into a car accident and subsequently has an extended near-death experience. This is one of my favorite subjects for supernatural drama, and while it was touched on (in a mythology capacity) earlier on this show in both One Breath and The Blessing Way, it seems well suited to the wishy-washy belief system of Reyes' character. Like in the little-known movie Sublime, she wakes up in an empty hospital (with some unsettling touches, like the doctors' charts all typed up in gibberish), but she's not alone.

This would have been a great opportunity to do a Reyes-only episode (obviously the creators weren't willing to take that risk, although at this point I don't think they had anything to lose), but it actually works really well with Scully and Doggett on the other side of the supernatural divide. Trusting her medical instincts, Scully is convinced that Reyes - brain-dead in a coma - is a goner, but Doggett (like Mulder before him) won't accept that diagnosis. As a result, he undergoes a meaningful character evolution, considering the explanation for his skepticism given in last season's Empedocles, as he must put his faith in the paranormal in order to believe in the possibility of saving Reyes' life. And he's got to rush against a rather macabre deadline, as well - for the doctor on call is suspiciously eager to divvy up her organs and dish them out to the hungry vultures waiting on the donor lists.

This is a great little episode - surely one of the highlights of the season. The floating hospital effects are a little hokey, but that's not a serious complaint. I liked the mousey, titular character, although given her chronic lack of self-confidence (albeit sadly not entirely unfounded), I would have liked to have seen her be the one to stand up to the villain in the end, realizing that she had the power to do good all along. But, then, this is The X-Files, and happy endings (at least for the guest stars) are rare.

Memorable quotes:

Mr. Barriero: Have you ever been dead? So how do you know you're not?

Stephen: I didn't say this was heaven. For all I know it''s hell.

Reyes: You can't die if you're already dead.

Scully: They're coming to say goodbye.
Doggett: Well, they can say hello instead.

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